New Ontario Building Codes Mandate Drain Water Heat Recovery
In January 2017, new residential building codes in Ontario mandate a 15 percent increase in energy performance, including the use of a vertical drain water heat recovery system.
SB-12 is the standard that Ontario homebuilders (i.e. for Part 9 buildings) must use to meet the minimum energy efficiency design requirements of Part 12 in the Ontario Building Code. This SB-12 update will include more stringent energy efficiency requirements for new homes.
This is the first major SB-12 update since its inception in 2012, and it will come into effect for all permit applications after December 31st, 2016, according to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Effective Jan. 1st, 2017, drain water heat recovery is mandatory in all Ontario Building Code SB-12 Prescriptive Paths. To meet the mandatory requirement, systems must have a minimum rated efficiency of 42% when tested according to CSA B55.1 and must also comply with CSA B55.2 B55.2 for safety and quality.
Blue Green Group, building consultants, outlined the key changes proposed for the 2017 SB-12 version:
- 15% Energy Efficiency Improvement: Each SB-12 package is designed to be 15% more energy efficient than current SB-12 packages, based on an "average" home.
- Fewer Packages: To reduce redundancy of unused packages in the current version, the proposed number of prescriptive packages will be less, e.g. 6 instead of 13 for the scenario of Zone 1 – Natural Gas.
- Now in Metric! Metric thermal values are now included in addition to imperial. Metric continues its slow and steady march to global domination
- Effective Thermal Resistance: Minimum thermal performance values for various assemblies are now listed in both nominal and effective. This will give a boost to buildings that use exterior continuous insulation, well the actual performance of the entire assembly, including thermal bridging through the studs, is recognized.
- Mandatory Heat Recovery Ventilators: Heat Recovery Ventilators is proposed to be mandatory across all packages, in order to facilitate better indoor air quality in airtight homes.
- Credit for Reduced Air Leakage: Recognition for demonstrating increased airtightess of the building envelope with a blower door test has been added. Improved airtightness can be used as a substitution for various insulation upgrades.
- Drain Water Heat Recovery (DWHR) Tradeoff has Been ‘Discreetly’ Removed: While MMAH doesn’t specifically indicate this in the list of proposed changes in their Backgrounder document, the proposed SB-12 (2017) update has been scrubbed of all traces of DWHR: where builders currently have the option of being credited for including DWHR by trading off another upgrade, they will no longer have this option under the drafted SB-12 (2017) update.
EcoDrain, a Montreal-based company, has developed a copper vertical drain water heat recovery system in addition to its pioneering horizontal designs. David Velan, inventor of the EcoDrain, has long championed the conservation of energy and water through drain water heat recovery systems. He sees the new Ontario building code provisions as a positive step.
"Overall, the ruling is a positive development for the technology," Velan says. "It shows that the technology is proven and also that the path to adoption is through energy codes which provide a win-win by allowing homeowners to save energy over time with a technology they probably otherwise would never have thought of, and also allowing the province to limit demand for energy as more homes are built."
Drain water heat recovery systems are also required in Manitoba. In some areas in the United States, including Washington State, the systems contribute to points for green building programs and also contribute to a home's HERS index by RESNet.
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